9 July, 2021 - Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report

Happy Friday folks. We hope everyone had a fun (and safe) Fourth of July last weekend, and a big thanks to everyone who came out for the parade! Things have stayed pretty hot this week, but we did get a nice weather break earlier. A day of cooler temps and rain helped the Yellowstone stay cooler, but also pumped some mud into the river system. 

Due to the Yellowstone River’s free flowing nature, it’s more susceptible to mud plugs and dirty water than other rivers in our area. Most of the mud in the river comes from the Lamar River in Yellowstone Park, and it always takes a few days to clear out. The clarity has been improving through the week but these frequent afternoon showers keep pumping more dirty water into the system.

If you look at the temperature chart for the Yellowstone here, you’ll see that the weather has had a positive effect on the rising water temps. Five days out of seven have been gotten above 68 however, so fish early before the water temps get really warm. Flows continue to eek down, as of this writing the river is at 3,470cfs. This is a level we typically see a month later in the year. 

So how’s fishing? 

As mentioned, getting out early will be your best bet. There are still a ton of Yellow Sallies around, as well as lots of caddis and PMDs. Finding consistently rising fish has been a challenge, but working fishy spots well will generally produce something. Fishing a Chubby or other large buoyant fly with a PMD or caddis dropper can be a great way to work two feeding zones at once. 

We’re starting to see hoppers out and about (early this year!) and fishing one can produce some curious fish, but the “hopper bite” hasn’t really turned on. It will soon though! Come stock up while we’ve got the flies. Don’t overlook ants and beetles too…

While the Yellowstone has been our main focus, other waters in our region are fishing really well. The Boulder has been running a bit high for wade fishing but is dropping into excellent shape. The Stillwater is a good bet, as is the Gallatin. The Upper Madison is still fishing well but is pretty busy.  The Lower Madison is under a hoot owl restriction (no fishing from 2pm to midnight) and we recommend heading somewhere else. Several other area rivers are either closed completely or under a hoot owl restriction. Get the full list on the FWP website.

At this time we aren’t recommending anyone fish the western rivers of Yellowstone National Park. This includes the Gibbon, Firehole, and Madison downstream of Madison Junction. They are just too warm to not put stress on the fish. The Northeast Corner is really coming into shape, and has been fishing well. Reports of PMDs, caddis, terrestrials and drakes are coming in. Be mindful of the mud in the Upper Yellowstone and Lamar after afternoon rain storms and you’ll be set. 

Looking for something new or chasing cooler water? The numerous mountain ranges around us are full of lakes, and many of those are full of fish. Many of those fish will eagerly take a fly, but some are a lot more technical. Chasing these mountain trout combines a couple of sports we’re all about here at Dan Bailey's. The best part? It’s an adventure! Go explore. Don’t overlook those little streams flowing in and out of mountain lakes too… 

Remember, with water and air temps are high as they are, do what you can to minimize stress on the fish. Use heavier tippet to fight fish more quickly. Leave them in the water as much as possible and minimize handling. Fish early in the day when water temps are at their lowest. If it gets too hot, put the rod down and enjoy the day! 

For the most current conditions and reports, call the shop at 406.222.1673 or stop in. We’ve got everything you need to enjoy Montana this summer, regardless of what you’re doing!